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Trump’s White House chief of staff meets predecessors


Reince Priebus. Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP

Reince Priebus. Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP

Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff designate Reince Priebus huddled with a dozen of his predecessors Friday, including John Podesta, the Hillary Clinton campaign chief now at the center of the Russian hacking controversy.

Priebus sat in the White House office he is set to occupy from January 20, after a lunch invitation from its current occupant Denis McDonough.

Around the long rectangular table sat a dozen White House gatekeepers going back to Jimmy Carter’s administration.

They included Podesta — Bill Clinton’s chief of staff — who was on the receiving end of Russian hacking during the campaign for the White House.

In the brief glimpse journalists were given of the meeting, Podesta, who was Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman, sat sternly as other participants laughed and joked.

In the last weeks of the campaign, WikiLeaks dumped thousands of emails — ranging from the politically explosive to the mundane — hacked from Podesta’s Gmail account.

In an article in the Washington Post on Friday Podesta decried a “Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump.”

The White House has pointed to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement.

Priebus was one of the few establishment Republicans to back Trump early on.

He has never held senior government office, so may well have asked for tips from figures who ran the White House during the Cold War, after 9/11 and the Iran hostage crisis.

A White House official said the meeting was “part of the president’s directive for a smooth transition to the next administration.”

In 2008, then White House chief of staff Josh Bolten held a similar meeting for his successor, Obama’s first top aide Rahm Emanuel.

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